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Confederate jasmine is excellent for an arbor

Q: I have an arch trellis and want to put a fragrant plant on both sides. Which would be better, Carolina jasmine or Confederate jasmine? Sheree Clayton, Norcross

A: I think one of the vines you’re considering is actually Carolina jessamine, Gelsemium sempervirens, not Carolina jasmine. The yellow flowers of Carolina jessamine are attractive but they are only moderately fragrant. On the other hand, Confederate jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, smells great! This vine may be damaged a bit from cold weather occasionally but I think it’s your best choice. The variety ‘Madison’ is reputed to be more cold tolerant.

Q: I am trying to reduce the number of times necessary to prune holly shrubs at my church. Could you recommend a growth-regulating product? Gene Young, email

A: Doug Cash, vice-president of local landscape company Arbor-Nomics (www.arbor-nomics.com) says flurprimidol (Cutless) does an excellent job for him. The granular product is applied after spring pruning and suppresses new growth for several months. Cutless is quite expensive and is not labeled for use by homeowners. It is most appropriate for companies that care for a lot of landscape-maintenance sites, where the cost of manual labor is greater than the cost of the chemical.

Q: My sister-in-law from Virginia is telling me that the plant I call Queen Anne’s Lace is a poisonous noxious weed called giant hogweed. How do you tell them apart? Jacqueline Odom, email

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A: The plants’ flowers are similar: both have white lace caps composed of many small white flowers. This is understandable since both are members of the carrot family. A Queen Anne’s Lace flower cap typically has a small knot of dark red or purple flowers in the center. The stem is slightly hairy and solid green. In contrast, giant hogweed has a smooth stem with reddish spots and streaks and no dark flowers in the flower cap.

Q: I want to plant some type of narrow “green fence” between my property and my neighbor’s. He uses slate chips along his property line and is fine with me planting something there as long as I use slate chips for mulch. I was thinking of a ‘Yuletide’ camellia hedge, realizing it would need regular pruning. Or maybe some type of upright grass? Would the chips affect either one? Donna Kingsman, email

A: I think the slate chips would be fine. If they are shaded a little bit by anything you plant, they won’t get very hot and the soil underneath won’t become too warm. If you don’t mind the regular clipping it will require, the camellia could be a nice screen. Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum , or big bluestem, Andropogon gerardii , are attractive upright grasses to consider but they turn brown and die back to the ground each winter. More narrow, upright plants to consider: ‘Sky Pencil’ holly and ‘Straight Talk’ privet.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.

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